Last month, my roommate Megan and I headed to Minneapolis under the pretense of going to the Minnesota State Fair. Or maybe it was to escape the unforgiving humidity and heat of DC for the milder temperatures of the Midwest. Or it was our enthusiasm for mid-sized Midwest cities. I’ll let you be the judge.
The Great Minnesota Get-Together
Admittedly, we booked the tickets months in advance. This was premeditated fair trip. For some reason, no one could understand why we would travel to go to a state fair. I believe these people have never attended a state fair, but I could be wrong.
Maybe these people just hate delicious fried foods, adorable animals, vaguely dangerous amusement park rides, 4-H competitions (gift-wrapping is easily the best category), gratuitous displays of state pride, and/or general merriment.
Our first stop at the fair was the Dairy Building where we were treated to the sight of a rotating glass-enclosed platform with one of the fair princesses sitting for her butter sculpture. I watched this while eating a caramel sundae for breakfast, so I knew this was going to be quite a good day.
We couldn’t resist the amusement park rides. But don’t worry, we strategically timed our rides between our long bouts of eating. By the last ride, we were only vaguely nauseous.
And if you were wondering if Megan and I are super fun people, it should be noted that we played bingo at the fair for a good half hour. Megan won on her first round. She’s a bingo shark.
The 4-H Section of a state fair is always one of my favorites. In a way, it’s like the best propaganda for becoming a farmer. And they almost convince me every time. First, I wanted all of the small goats. Then we went to the bunnies and I wanted one of these. I was nearly drafting plans for a chicken coop in my non-existent backyard by the time we got to the fancy chickens. The geese snapped me out of it, though. Those things are scary.
Then I got to pet an eight day old piglet and that almost sucked me right back in.
What We Ate
The highlight of any fair is the fried foods. And the Minnesota State Fair is known for some of the most interesting fair food around. Each year, they release a list of all of the new items on offer that year. We stuck to the classics for our first fair experience, but it was fun to see all the interesting creations even if we did not partake (hotdish on a stick, anyone?)
- Caramel Ice Cream Sundae
- French Fries
- Pronto Pup
- Sweet Martha’s Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Soft Pretzel with Cheese
- Gyro (Why are gyros so different (better) in the Midwest?)
- Fried Ravioli
- Shaved Ice
- Poutine Tater Tots
- Cheese Curds
- Minneapolis Institute of Art – I love nothing more than a free museum, and Minneapolis has a great one! I particularly liked all of their staged period rooms.
- Chain of Lakes – Minnesota has a lot of lakes. Some might even say 10,000. As a waterfront enthusiast, Megan insisted that we go to one. This one is near the downtown area and has great walking or biking path.
- Minneapolis Sculpture Garden at Walker Art Center – To continue our day of walking around the green spaces of Minneapolis, we visited the Sculpture Garden and its nearby parks.
- Mall of America – At first, we thought we could avoid the draw of this large shopping center, but who were we kidding? We love consumerism and this is a monument to just that. Definitely worth a trip just to be in awe of the over-the-top space.
To Eat and Drink
- Glam Doll Donuts – This donut shop is what I imagine a donut shop would look like if I owned one. The furnishings are mid century modern. The music is girly pop songs (Britney Spears played more than once during our visit). And all of the employees are decked out in pin-up inspired ensembles. Oh, and the donuts were good, too! Needless to say, this is possibly my dream donut shop come to life.
- Wesley Andrews Coffee and Tea – Megan is a coffee lover and she approves of this coffee. So you can take that as a very valuable seal of approval. I do not drink coffee, and enjoyed that they have some very delicious non-coffee drink options. I had a Matcha Thai Iced Tea from their summer menu that I loved (and lovingly compared to the flavor of Fruit Stripe gum – Megan thought it tasted like basil).
- Young Joni – We went to this popular pizza place on a Sunday night, expecting a long wait and fully accepting of that. We got in right away, but I can tell you that this is some pizza worth waiting for. They also have a speakeasy cocktail bar in the alley behind the restaurant if you need to kill some time before you get to devour this delicious pizza.
I attempted to make a playlist for this, but I just ended up with what was essentially a “Best of Prince” playlist with a side of Bob Dylan.
So if you go anywhere in Minnesota, just bring some Prince albums.